Missouri lawmakers and the state’s business community agree — employees who are fired for stealing or doing drugs on the job shouldn’t be rewarded for these activities. Now, we will see if Gov. Jay Nixon agrees as well.
Today, the Missouri House of Representatives approved Senate Bill 510 by a 107-45 bipartisan vote. The bill now goes to the governor’s desk. The proposal would change Missouri’s standards that dictate which employees are allowed to receive unemployment benefits upon termination. Currently, Missouri’s unemployment benefits laws are far too inclusive, effectively rewarding some employees who willfully break workplace rules.
“Missouri businesses are fortunate to have an outstanding workforce. Unfortunately, current state law is allowing a few bad apples to take advantage of the unemployment compensation system,” said Daniel P. Mehan, Missouri Chamber president and CEO. “Allowing these rightfully terminated employees into our unemployment system has contributed the federal huge debt that Missouri businesses must now repay. This is bad for all Missourians and it’s time for this to stop.”
During the recent economic recession, the state’s unemployment system had to borrow hundreds of millions of dollars from the federal government to pay for the influx Missourians who were qualifying for unemployment benefits. Missouri is one of 13 states that remain indebted to the federal government. Missouri currently owes $270 million. In addition to penalties, interest on the debt grows at a rate of approximately $12 million a year.
“As we focus on growing our economy, this debt is a significant hurdle. We’d like to thank the legislature for addressing this problem,” said Mehan. “This bill will help reduce our debt and make it less likely our employers will face this burden again in the future. Now, we call on the governor to join our consensus and sign this bill.”
Senate Bill 510 is sponsored by Sen. Will Kraus, R-Lee’s Summit.